Picturins America
About This Project   Introductory section   Lessons Plans   Extras
Picturing America Comes to Russia
Picturing America in Russia—Goals and Objectives
Preparing to Use the Picturing America Companion

Picturing America Comes to Russia


 “The visual image inspires viewers to both better understand another culture and engage in meaningful language use” (Project Description, IV Program Grant Proposal). Important links between cultural understanding, language development, and works of art served as the foundation of a proposal to combine English language instruction with America art history. This proposal, written by the English Language Office at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, was designed to promote a lasting cross-cultural exchange between Russia and America. In accordance with this idea, ten Russian teachers from all over the country—from Siberia to St. Petersburg—were selected to partake in a month long trip in the United States. One of the teachers presents the following narrative account of the trip:

    During a month-long trip the group of Russian teachers visited numerous American museums and art galleries, among them such prominent institutions as The National Gallery of Art, National Museum of the American Indian and New Museum in Washington, D.C., The Metropolitan Art Museum and Museum of the Moving Image in New York, Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Within the scope of the International Visitor Leadership program The United States of America generously shared not only cultural but also historical knowledge by giving Russian teachers a chance to visit epochal places such as The Library of Congress and The National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., The Independence Hall and the Free Library in Philadelphia, The Ellis and Liberty Islands in New York, The Warm Springs Indian Reservation in Oregon. That is only a small part of all the opportunities that Russian teachers were kindly given during their trip.

Upon their return, the teachers were asked to share their newfound impressions and knowledge by creating English language lesson plans about American artworks for Russian students. Such lesson plans, which serve as a testament to the teachers’ cross-cultural exchange, allow a larger number of students to benefit from the project and ensure its longevity. As one teacher noted, “I have a strong feeling that these lesson plans will be useful for several generations of Russian students.”

Given the success of the NEH Picturing America Project, the English Language Office decided to use this package of artworks and reading materials as the foundation upon which the Russian teachers could create their lesson plans. Thus, the teachers’ trip to the United States was organized in a manner that allowed them to learn more about the specific artworks and themes featured in the collection. The teachers visited a number of museums, met with arts educators, and art historians. At the end of the trip, the teachers attended the International TESOL Convention in Boston. In sum, the trip allowed the teachers to expand their knowledge about English teaching methodology and American art.

Returning to Russia, the teachers began to build on the Picturing America materials. The teachers created lesson plans for each of the forty works of art featured in the Picturing America collection. As the original texts in the Teachers Resource Book were written for native speakers, the teachers created a glossary, thereby facilitating Russian students’ understanding of the readings. Finally, the teachers compiled a list of web resources related to American art and culture.

The Picturing America Companion: “Teaching American Culture and Language Through Art” contains the following items:

  • 40 lesson plans
  • A glossary to accompany the Picturing America texts
  • Web Resources

Picturing America Sets

The Picturing America sets, which include the 40 reproductions and the Teachers Resource Book can be found in the American Corners and Centers throughout Russia.

Corners and Center are located in the following cities: Arkhangelsk, Bryansk, Chelyabinsk, Irkutsk, Kaliningrad, Kazan, Khabarovsk, Moscow (AMC), Moscow (Duma), Nizhni Novgorod, Novosibirsk, Omsk, Perm, Petropavlovsk- Kamchatsky, Petrozavodsk, Saint-Petersburg, Saint-Petersburg (Children), Saratov, Togliatti, Tomsk, Tyumen, Ufa, Vladivostok, Volgograd, Vologda, Yekaterinburg, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk.

          For more information, please visit the website: http://www.amcorners.ru.

Target Audience

The lesson plans for the Picturing America Companion are designed for advanced, secondary students. However, university students could easily use the lesson plans as well. Such lesson plans are especially useful for students in the humanities. The lessons plans can also be modified to suit less advanced students.